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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

406                  MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

CARL ZUCKMAYER (1896- ) began with outrageous expressionist
plays: Kreu^weg (1920) and Pankras^ envacht oder die Hinterwaldler
(1925), the latter a play of the Wild West. In 1939 he found a
refuge in the United States, where he ran a farm in Vermont Hill
In 1947 he returned to Germany. His comedy Derfrohliche 'Wein-
berg (1925) was awarded the Kleist prize because it was the first
breakaway from the nebulosity of expressionism to life as it might
be lived. From now on Zuckmayer ranks as a gesundeter Expres-
sionist. The hero of Schinderhannes (1927) is a captain of robbers in
the Rhineland in Napoleon's days; the left bank of the Rhine is
occupied by the French, while on the tight bank a German army
is assembling. The doctrine is frankly soaked with the socialism
of today; the real robbers are Church and State, while Schinder-
hannes takes nothing from the poor. In Katharina Knie (1928) we
have a rope-dancer who is married by the landowner from whom
she steals hay for her donkey. Der Hauptmann von Kopenick (1931)
is a relentless exposure of Prussian militarism before the outbreak
of the First World War; an out-of-work cobbler who has spent a
good part of his life in prison steals a captain's uniform, walks
into a town hall, arrests the mayor, and walks off with the civic
cash-box. This breath-taking feat is only possible because the cob-
bler with miraculous ease drops dialect for the cultured German
of the officer class. Der Schelm von'Rergen (1934) varies a well known
Rhineland legend; Eellmann (1938; in 1951 renamed Ulla Winblad]
dramatizes the love-story of the Swedish poet. All these plays are
put in the shade by Des Teufels General (i 946), which throws a lurid
light on conditions in Germany just before the United States came
into the war. Zuckmayer had gone into exile in the belief that
Hitler would be overthrown by the resistance movement in Ger-
many, and in the play we see this resistance movement taking
shape; aeroplanes are crashing because the workmen who produce
them are using wrong alloys in the conviction that the only way
to get rid of the Nazis is to lose the war; the ethical weakness of
the idea is that good men who are not Nazis at heart are sacrificed.
General Harras of the air force, who is not a member of the party,
is under suspicion, and we see him coming to the conclusion that
he has been the devil's general; to escape extinction in a concen-
tration camp he takes the air in one of the new defective machines,
crashes immediately, and is given a State funeral. Der Gesang im
Feuerofen (1950) is in some sort a return to the ecstatic upsurge of